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J Biol Chem. 2006 Oct 6;281(40):29652-9. Epub 2006 Aug 8.

Loss of caspase-9 provides genetic evidence for the type I/II concept of CD95-mediated apoptosis.

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Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Düsseldorf, Universitätsstrasse 1, D-40225 Düsseldorf, Germany.


The death receptor CD95 triggers apoptosis upon formation of a death-inducing signaling complex and the activation of caspase-8. Two types of CD95-mediated apoptosis have been distinguished that differ in their efficiency of death-inducing signaling complex formation and the requirement of mitochondria for caspase activation. The validity of the type I/II model, however, has been challenged, as Bcl-2 expression or the use of various CD95 agonists resulted in different apoptosis effects. By identifying a caspase-9-deficient T cell line, we now provide genetic evidence for the two-pathway model of CD95-mediated apoptosis and demonstrate that type II cells strongly depend on caspase-9. Caspase-9-deficient cells revealed strongly impaired apoptosis, caspase activation, and mitochondrial membrane depolarization upon CD95 triggering, whereas, surprisingly, activation of Bak and cytochrome c release were not inhibited. Furthermore, caspase-9-deficient cells did not switch to necrosis, and reconstitution of caspase-9 expression restored CD95 sensitivity. Finally, we also show that different death receptors have a distinct requirement for caspase-9.

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